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Wicks Have Plenty for Which to Be Thankful

In a normal year, Thanksgiving and the amateur wrestling season collide in a most disharmonious convergence, the precise time when both the holidays and the sport kick off with a flurry of activity.
For participants, it has created a popular quandary. Scores of wrestling tournaments are held across the country at that time of year for competitors at the high school and college levels, taking advantage of the annual four-day weekend that accompanies the holiday. Tales of restraint at the dinner table are legendary as wrestlers annually confront one of their most challenging foes in a sport where for most weight classes every pound and sometimes every ounce — literally — counts. Often, after a lengthy stay on the mat and back with family on a day where overeating is typical, caloric moderation is not the first thing that comes to mind.
It’s a familiar scenario for San Marino’s Wick family, who have three wrestlers currently at the top levels of the collegiate and high school ladders. But with most competitions shut down due to COVID restrictions, mother Milena, father Bill and sons Zander, Evan and Luka were able last week to do something this year that they haven’t experienced in quite some time: enjoy a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
“Oh, yeah,” said Bill Wick, a wrestler himself, with a zest suddenly coming to his voice. “We haven’t eaten normal in quite a while. There were second helpings and everything.”
We would call Bill Wick a “former wrestler,” but that term is as inaccurate as calling someone a “former Marine.” Bill Wick still trains as if he is back in his native Ohio and could probably give any of his three champion sons a legitimate battle.
Even during a pandemic, the Wicks have plenty for which to be thankful. Twin sons and San Marino High School class of 2016 graduates Zander and Evan are finishing up at the University of Wisconsin, where four years ago both received wrestling scholarships. Luka, a senior at San Marino High School, is weighing scholarship offers from some of the finest wrestling schools in the nation and preparing to wrestle for the Titans. The sport is scheduled for Season 2 in the revamped high school format set forth by the CIF and Luka hopes to be healed from a June repair of a torn ACL he suffered in the CIF championship match this past March. Season 2 sports begin in March 2021 — if all goes according to plan — with the CIF and state finals slated for June.
Until then, the three-time Rio Hondo League champion and all-American is narrowing down his college choices from a list that includes the United States Naval Academy, Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Due to COVID, the NCAA has delayed the time period for college visits until March. When he eventually chooses his destination, Luka hopes to major in kinesiology.
Zander Wick’s promising wrestling career ended in 2018 during his sophomore year at Wisconsin, but he remains close to the sport and continues to train and coach. As a redshirt freshman and ranked 12th in the nation, Zander underwent surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip. Then, in an odds-defying occurrence a year later, he suffered the exact same injury in the other hip, effectively ending his collegiate career. Zander remains at Wisconsin, or at least at the online version of Wisconsin, and has retained his academic scholarship.
Twin brother Evan Wick continues to wrestle even though Wisconsin’s season has been paused. Evan qualified for the United States Olympic Trials and is taking his senior year off in what is known as an Olympic gray shirt season. Upon entering the University of Wisconsin, both Evan and Zander were immediately redshirted and placed on five-year academic and athletic schedules.
Evan recently won the United States championship in the U23 freestyle tournament in the 74 kilogram (163 pound) weight class. The Olympic trials for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games — which have been delayed until July 2021 — will take place in March. When allowed, Evan wrestles for the Minnesota Storm, an amateur club team, and will resume both his education and wrestling career at Wisconsin, where he is majoring in rehabilitation psychology.
That’s quite a bit of information to let settle. Much like that Thanksgiving dinner.


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